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Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

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December 2, 2013 9:14 am

The rumours are rife in the aviation industry of a request for proposal for a urgent requirement for a remotely piloted air delivery vehicle for a customer in the North Pole!


December 2, 2013 3:18 pm

P-8 makes its first operational deployment


This is an interesting place to send such aircraft in my view for a variety of reasons. The military and strategic implications are fairly obvious. But I think there is also a bit of a sales approach here as well due to the ongoing issues Japan is having with the P-1’s. So far they have had engine problems and cracking problems with the P-1. Supposedly they know what caused the former and can fix the engines. Have not heard on the cracking problems if there is a long term solution and what that might cost.

Japan has long been committed to having a large and capable MPA force. I would guess the P-1 is moving in a direction where it needs to prove its maturity and reliability soon to keep people from looking around for other solutions. The key for an MPA is really dispatch reliability after all.

December 2, 2013 8:54 pm

Is this where we write to Santa for some goodies for the new year?

December 2, 2013 9:20 pm

BBC 2 Thursday, The Silent War……..


December 2, 2013 9:31 pm


That clip still, a pipe!

You know its serious Navy when the pipe comes out!

Makes me remember something a puddle pirate told me, that smoking was still allowed in our subs, one of the few ‘public/shared workplaces’ that still allow smoking. Then again, always thought smoking was massively dangerous due to the oxygen/gas mix in the sub under pressure… not to mention weapons and sensitive equipment.
Would be interesting to know about that, since I know submariners have certain special dispensations

December 2, 2013 9:50 pm

@ Mike

Yes. The only thing that lets the pic’ down is they are playing cards not uckers……..

Then again submariners play by some strange rules that are like Freemasonry meets Mornington Crescent so perhaps we have been spared a mind altering image…….

Gloomy Northern Boy
December 2, 2013 10:26 pm

@Repulse – I can’t wait to see @M&S Letter to Santa – the site will crash…yours I assume will have something about Ships?


Red Trousers
December 2, 2013 10:41 pm


I do want to see M&S’ letter to Santa, or at least the edited highlights if that is humanly possible. It’ll give me a clue as to what to buy the senior Trouserette for Christmas. She’s at that difficult age, and we’ve had another falling out about her attitude to road safety on her bike.

I must be getting soft and indulgent in my early late youth. I read (umm, sort of skim read) his tome on the German A-bomb programme, thinking all of the while “this is very odd, I’ve never heard of any of this before, must have been kipping at the back of class”, only to discover that several members of the TD parish were distinctly uncharitable about him in later comments.

I am however truly in awe at his ability to not only type for about 6 hours straight, but then to completely ignore the ensuing questions and slight derision. Hide like a rhino, I reckon.

Gloomy Northern Boy
December 2, 2013 10:54 pm

@RT – If he has hooves like one as well, the typing is even more impressive…perhaps he is a Judoon? (Dr Who reference – Gloomy Junior’s favourite character)…what has Miss Trouserette been playing chicken with now? If the Young Lady is over twelve, purchase something from the Jack Wills Catalogue; you’ll need to sell a few acres though…or maybe Abercrombie and Fitch, in which case it’s a mortgage on the house…and your next pair of Red Trousers will be Marks and Sparks not Gieves and Hawkes!


John Hartley
December 2, 2013 10:57 pm

RT. I think some of it is in Nick Cooks’ book “The Hunt for Zero Point”. In a bit of land that keeps swapping between Poland & Germany, The Nazis were supposed to have a mine with a glowing blue bell. Some say time travel, others say anti-gravity, or some sort of power generator or flying saucer. The half truths & the crackpots, make it hard to know what to think.

Red Trousers
December 2, 2013 11:05 pm


Thieves and Sharks are a bit too common, plus the Andrew get their kit made there. Meyer and Mortimer around the corner are better.

Only other cars. She was pootling along doing about 5 mph (maximum) and got hooted at by someone caught up behind her, so she stopped and put down her bike in the middle of the carriageway and went to have a jolly good shout at the driver who had to stop. Most unladylike. But I’m quite proud of her. Sadly, I wasn’t there, so unable to reinforce her argument.

I don’t know where she get’s this utter self-confidence from. It must be hell being the daughter of a cavalryman and half-spanish. She just knows that she is totally correct. ;)

Gloomy Northern Boy
December 2, 2013 11:26 pm

@RT – Brummel’s Tailor – should have known – he was another Light Cavalryman…


December 2, 2013 11:29 pm

@RT: My two year old son (now 11!) had a habit of running into the road shouting “stop cars!”. Thankfully we broke him of that one, although the daughter (then 3) noted a biker going at 60 in a 30 mph zone with the comment “that’s cool!” sort of worries me more :-)

December 3, 2013 1:19 pm

Assuming the four new corvettes/OPVs on order for the RN are called the River class – Batch 3, a few ideas for names:

HMS Thames
HMS Trent
HMS Avon
HMS Bann
HMS Derwent

HMS Great Ouse does not really have the right ring to it!

December 3, 2013 1:58 pm

@ Waylander

Your (nearly a) Gas Turbine class will be diesel powered don’t forget……

Never mind the awkwardness of BAE products bearing the names of RR products……

December 3, 2013 7:59 pm
December 4, 2013 10:43 am

Just tripped across this on the web: http://jim-quinn8.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/bristol-siddeley-engines-limited.html – a very fine description of Bloodhound’s Thor Ramjets appears at the bottom of the page, as published in a Bristol Siddeley brochure TJ101, dated July 1960. Fascinating stuff…

December 4, 2013 12:25 pm


Remember .308 is a higher pressure round than 7.62x51mm……….

El Sid
December 4, 2013 12:39 pm

Anyone want to buy some cavalry horses on the cheap? The Spanish have decided they can do without military horses and are closing down their stud, prices start at €100. Presumably they’ve got some interesting and well-documented bloodlines in there?


Might be of interest to one TDer in particular? :-)

Ace Rimmer
December 4, 2013 3:36 pm



PCP say,

“PCP Ammunition has developed several loads for different applications using bullets from the premier manufacturers such as Sierra, Hornady and Berger. We currently produce 5.56/.223, 6.8 SPC, 7.62×51/.308, .300WM, .338LM, and .50 cal. We are currently undergoing testing with the U.S. Military and have created multiple new loads in order to help meet their specs. We are not disclosing details of the particular loads until the cartridges are released for sale. We will release our 7.62/.308 cartridge this year. ”

So we could some NATO stuff sometime in the future! ;-)

December 4, 2013 5:26 pm

Capabilities of commercial v military, the speed of decision making, engineering and production of the Prelude is phenomenal relative to the Gerald Ford or Queen Elizabeth a/c carriers.

The Shell/Tecnip/Samsung – Prelude FLNG ( floating liquid natural gas platform for Australian gas fields) 1601 feet long 240 feet wide, 600,000 tonnes, 260,000 + tonnes of steel in construction, project started July 2009, go ahead authorised May 2011, 1.6 million hours front end engineering, cut first steel October 2012, keel laid down May 2013, floated out today.


dave haine
December 4, 2013 5:35 pm

@ Nick

Be fair, Prelude is an unpowered lighter, with no propulsion system, minimal crew and therefore hotel services, minimal electronickery, no radar, no offensive systems. In fact, a giant metal dracone. I suspect it has very little internal bulkheads/compartmentalisation. It certainly hasn’t got a bow.

The carriers are a tad more complex…

December 4, 2013 5:41 pm

DH – that’s as may be, but they have both surely been whacked with the Ugly Stick

dave haine
December 4, 2013 6:13 pm

@ Chris

Do you think so? I didn’t think they looked so bad, not as warry as the Admiral Kuznetsov, and not as attractive as the Audacious class, maybe, but not the worst warships:

December 4, 2013 6:59 pm

Definitely ugly. No doubt some expert will proclaim its all to do with RCS reduction. I think its much more to do with the impression of RCS reduction than the physical reality. The tottering cones of the two islands would I believe have had a similar reflectivity if they’d been given conventional tumblehome (or is T-45 not intended to be a radar stealthy shape?); the literally pointless rectangular deck sits atop a conventionally curved hull; the deck lifts provide fine trihedrals for maximum RCS – its not the world’s most stealthy ship, its just been styled to look like it is, and I suspect almost entirely in CAD where inappropriate straight lines and flat planes don’t look as unpleasant as they do in real life, best part of a thousand times bigger. Really, its ugly. Whack-whackety-whack-whack-ugly.

This is of course an opinion…

Red Trousers
December 4, 2013 7:06 pm

Quite an unusual, and indeed heart warming story. Not defence specific:

Nigerian man rescued from sunken boat after three days trapped at bottom of Atlantic – video


December 4, 2013 7:13 pm

An opinion I share. Just doesn’t look right, especially bow on.

Totally unrelated, but does anyone know why the Mig-29 comes with what appears to be a cockpit curtain?

December 4, 2013 7:17 pm


Its something to train trainee pilots on IFR flying, flying by use of instruments only. Literally forcing the trainee to focus on the instruments. Its also to help keep the cockpit dark for night flying and/or naps :D
Might also have other ‘shielding’ uses, but I do believe its a training aid.

John Hartley
December 4, 2013 7:25 pm

Old dinosaur that I am, I still have doubts that polymer ammunition will be robust enough in Polar/Tropical extreme conditions. OK I did the tour of Farnborough stands looking at high strength/temp resistant aerospace polymers, but are they cheap enough for ammo use? If you want light, I still remember using aluminium cased Blazer handgun ammo in the 80s. The soft aluminium case did get dings in it. The standard way to toughen Aluminium is to add a little copper. Has anyone experimented with aluminium/copper alloy cases?

December 4, 2013 7:32 pm

Its the cockpit of an su27 It is for training. When students perform instrument landing that curtain used to prevent visual contact with the ground. Test officer seats behind the student in second cockpit.

dave haine
December 4, 2013 7:34 pm

@ Chris & WiseApe

It is a warship! Aesthetics aren’t going to be a main design driver, are they…I mean what did you expect? Venus de Milo?, the Three graces? Herds of Wildebeeste sweeping majestically across the african plain?

December 4, 2013 7:37 pm

Chris, the RCS reduction is probably because most of the ship is sitting much lower in the water. Only the bridge housing is sticking above the deck as opposed to a large blocky superstructure of conventional ships. Personally, I think it’s a workable ship design. The unworkable part is not the design, but the cost.

December 4, 2013 7:38 pm


“However, although the company has performed some de-risking activities – notably fit tests on the two US-built types – any further integration work will require “a paying customer”.

Discussions are also on going with nations interested in fielding the long-range anti-ship munition on the Gripen E and Eurofighter Typhoon, says Bratlie.”

December 4, 2013 7:59 pm

@Mike – That sounds logical, but odd they’re doing it on their air display team jets.

@Mark – I wonder which current Typhoon customer might be prepared to stump up for JSM integration. The Luftwaffe have always been enthusiastic sinkers of ships.

Red Trousers
December 4, 2013 8:24 pm

From a completely unrelated article in the Guardian on an argy-bargy going on in Whitehall about funding school dinners, a little throwaway snippet:

The Ministry of Defence will also be given “exceptional flexibility” to keep its expected underspends of £800 million and roll them over to next year.

£800 million: that should unglue a few of the smaller programmes that are held up for lack of funding. There’s a niche data management programme for MoD that I’ve got my eye on that needs £20 million. Approved, pretty much ready to enter competitive procurement, just currently sucking on the hind tit waiting for funding to become available.

So, £780 million for you lot to spend on fantasy stuff. The first £20 million I am ring-fencing… :)

dave haine
December 4, 2013 8:35 pm

That should be enough to change the small arms calibre to 6.8mm……

December 4, 2013 8:39 pm

DH, obs – fully agree form must follow function where there is no realistic option. But when all the ‘must be this way’ bits are in place there remains all that structural glue that holds the bits together – that’s where the designer gets a chance to turn out something that might be a thing of beauty – or a gnarled crone. Aston Martin or Austin Metro. For reasons only they will know they chose to make this look as it does, and could have chosen otherwise, so warship or not its still uglier than it could or should have been.

I long since stopped believing that things are forced to be a given shape by rules of physics. I lost count how many hideous cars were sold with marketing tags like “lines honed by wind-tunnel testing” or “the most aerodynamic shape physically possible” – what do we see in reality? All the cars look like each other ‘for scientific reasons’ but 10 years later their shapes are completely different from the earlier ones but they still all look like each other. Style has nothing to do with science as far as I can see.

December 4, 2013 8:44 pm

@ Wise Ape

Their display aircraft are bog-standard military jets. Maybe strengthened and certainly best kept! But nonetheless, are full combat capable.

Its an old school way of learning IFR, seems to work as they continue to use them – then again we haven’t really heard how ‘good’ Russian simulators are! ;)

December 4, 2013 8:52 pm


Military culture remains a significant barrier apparently. I am not sure whether that means the culture (specifically) of the Canadian military or a universal martial culture born out of the systems, processes, and a sociology directed toward a definite end of expedited, efficient, and extreme violence towards an enemy.

Israel gets mentioned a lot in these discussions. Yet the IDF isn’t as integrated as it first appears; mainly because their experience of mixed units isn’t as positive as some feminists would have the world believe.

If less 2% of Canadian combat troops are women it can’t be proven statistically that the experiment is a success because the sample is too small. Far too small. How many men get through to units who are sub-optimal? I bet it would be somewhere 5%, Is it being assumed that those women are all outstanding soldiers and pull more than their weight (both literally and figuratively) compared with the average male soldier? Physiologically that is questionable. Psychologically perhaps they could be better than average having been determined enough to run against the grain to aspire to a very difficult career in a traditional male sphere. But again I am not sure. Some of the most aggressive I have come across in everyday life are women. And we all know how stubborn they can be! ;) So I question whether it is a given that 2% are indeed physiological far superior to the average male. There is no real gain; none of this “women have to better than the man” horlicks. 2% Just 2%. All this hoohah of 2%

Part of me thinks if they are up to the job and their presence isn’t detrimental to unit performance then they should be allowed. Part of me thinks that any society that allows women into combat is morally corrypt. But the main reason why I am opposed to this is that those pushing for it aren’t the ones who will be carrying themselves, 50lb bergan, and rifle (at least) onto a two way range for a few days in any and all weathers. It is gynocentric Marxism. And worse I should imagine if their daughters volunteered to do such those pushing for women in combat would do their utmost to persuade their daughters not to go. Women of the same class who sent “us” to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet whose children didn’t go to war but uni’ and comfortable white collar jobs, while children from council estates went to war. And finally contemptibly they scoff at the columns of society that allows them to wage such wars. (There is a wild wild theory that left likes wars because it cause attrition amongst those who would most likely stand against them. Wild theory but you can see why some would believe such ideas.)

All interesting stuff.

Red Trousers
December 4, 2013 8:56 pm

@ DH,

sadly, it doesn’t work that way. The £800m in reality is not freebie money, it’s already identified as a spending need, but for whatever reason not able to be spent in-year. Every £ will be allocated, and in fact if £800m is unspent, there’s probably £1.5bn in demand from dozens of approved programmes, so some senior management judgement will have to be applied to prioritise the available £800m, and some programmes will continue to be unfunded.

My challenge is to talk up the benefits of my company doing the work on the programme enough to charm the MoD birds out of the air (the only real skill I have in life) to make sure that the programme I’ve focussed on is one of the lucky programmes that does get a slice of the £800m. And then to beat up relentlessly the PMs in the company to make sure the sods can actually deliver. They are miserabilists, PMs in general. Always got an excuse ready. And a ruddy process, and forms that need to be filled in, and an over cautious set of timelines, and they really hate risk. But, our lot are actually quite brilliant at delivering once I’ve brought in a contract win and thrown it over the wall at them.

December 4, 2013 8:58 pm

RT says “The first £20 million I am ring-fencing… :)”

Don’t worry the UK has a special unit that likes protecting fences…….

December 4, 2013 9:16 pm

@x: interesting on how you pick on the Canadian experience on women in combat. We had a pair of rah-rah articles on the BBC about how wonderful they were, like this:-


Ah, I thought. So there will be a bit of gender norming then? Correct!


Those endurance runs are, OMG, so not required!

December 4, 2013 9:30 pm

@ wf

Well the Canadians are (still) a good mix of us (the UK) and them (the US). Despite what Brussells thinks most of us still have more common with the White Commonwealth than other variations on Western culture.

As I said I don’t think any of this is about fairness more about an assault on our culture for no sake at all. Fanatics double the effort and forget the cause.

As I said we are talking about 2% of Canada’s combat force. 2%!

I think nobody should be excluded from defending the nation if they so choose if they are physically and mentally able. But I am not sure about the moral dimension. I think this is more about attacking the nation than defending the nation…….

December 4, 2013 9:46 pm

Wonder if the US army has any more chinooks it doesn’t want we could use some of that overspend!


— 14 CH-47D Model Aircraft to include T55-GA-714A Engines, 2 per aircraft (14 ac x 2=28 engines)
— 5 T55-GA-714A Turbine to be used as spares.
— 16 AN/ARC-220 HF Radios
— 32 AN/ARC-186 VHF AM/FM Radios
— 16 AN/ARN 123 VOR ILS Marker Beacons
— 14 AN/ARN-154(V) Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) System
— 16 AN/ARC-201D or AN/ARC-201E VHF FM Homing Radios
— 16 AN/APN-209D Radar Altimeters
— 16 AN/ASN-43 Gyro-magnetic Compasses

Also included are mission equipment, communication and navigation equipment, ground support equipment, special tools and test equipment, spares, publications, Maintenance Work Orders/Engineering Change Proposals (MWO/ECP), technical support and training.

The total estimated value for these articles and services is $151 million.

December 4, 2013 9:46 pm

@x: my issue with women in combat is more to do with the inevitable strains to unit cohesion by the relationships that will develop. But I find it instructive that these PC initiatives are always accompanied by the reduction in physical standards as well :-(

Ace Rimmer
December 4, 2013 9:53 pm

X, having heard the stories of female medics and the like in Afghanistan, its just the next logical step. Some of them are nails.

To paraphrase a relative who was there, “To see them manning a check point in Afghanistan, and then see the same ones back in the UK in a club, in high heels and a mini-skirt dancing ’round their handbags is something to behold”

To me, it looks like they’ve earned the right, if that’s what they want.

December 4, 2013 10:07 pm

@ Ace Rimmer

There is a difference between bringing a capability such as first aid and being part of the charge? Correspondents go forward. Interpreters go forward. The female medic, is an asset to be protected. Being trained to look after yourself isn’t the same as being in the thick of the fighting. Do you think take up within the UK for combat posts would be much, much greater than the Canadians? I don’t thinks so. One medic out of or with a platoon of thirty two is only 3% of the groups MANpower ( ;) ) As I said, as with most things, I am for and against it, apart from this being an issue to satisfy an agenda that shouldn’t pollute this sphere. Societies turn to militaries when normal civil mechanisms fail; they are without the norms of society.

December 4, 2013 10:11 pm

@ Mark

How much does it cost to integrate a weapon onto a Typhoon? Is there anything that goes bang we could spend that money on?

If we are buying helicopters we need helicopters for CHF. Now I have KAI’s number here somewhere……..

John Hartley
December 4, 2013 10:13 pm

Over at Defense News, there is an item saying the US may sell 2,000 MRAP vehicles in Afghanistan, as it will cost $250,000 to $300,000 each to ship them back to US & refurb them. Perhaps some of the underspend money could buy a few MRAPs?

Red Trousers
December 4, 2013 10:35 pm


not entirely sure I agree with you. The majority of my service saw official rules against female employment in the combat zone, but in the latter years it was somewhat relaxed.

I don’t think there’s any good argument against female employment in the front line, so long as every soldier can pass gender-neutral physical tests. It’s not popular in my old Regiment, but I hold a minority view that combat soldiers can be female just as effectively as males can be.

If the men have a problem with that, it’s not the girls’ fault.

An extremely effective bodyguard I once spent 6 months serving alongside was female (I was the MA to a french Principal, he had six bodyguards in his team who among other things I ran the team). She was bloody marvellous as a bodyguard, and I have no doubt whatsoever that she brought more to the team than she cost it. It was actually an interesting dynamic: 5 French Foreign Legionnaires, all of whom were totally doubtful of having a woman in their team, as the FFL didn’t do women at the time. She was better than just about all of them, and from the French equivalent of the AG Corps.

Also a bloody good shag after the tour ended, and we got some R&R. So I have to declare some bias. ;)

December 4, 2013 10:49 pm

@ RT

You haven’t read what I said. I am neither for or against, but both. My problem is with those who are pushing who will never go into harms way. Nor will their daughters. It isn’t being pushed for genuine reasons, and the real arguments, those based on physiology, are dismissed as false even though science would suggest otherwise. When a female XV runs out to contest a Premiership final we might have grounds for equality in combat.

As for If the men have a problem with that, it’s not the girls’ fault. well you can’t run an organisation on exceptions. What about If the girls have a problem with that, it’s not the men’s fault.” ? Again 2%. Even referring to them as girls is a bit well sexist…….

Being a body guard isn’t the same as combat is it? As for your shagging does that add or detract from the argument?

Red Trousers
December 5, 2013 12:18 am


I did read what you wrote, but I probably did not comprehend it as you intended to put across, for which blame me and my lack of wider vision (or you ;) )

I don’t doubt what you describe as motivations for those who advance those arguments, I just look at it slightly politically. It doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong to advance their arguments, it only matters what rules the Government ends up passing. you’ve probably got an extremely intellectually coherent argument on your side, but if some rule gets passed that goes against it for all sorts of crap reasons, well we all have to deal with the new reality.

As for the shagging, it’s neither adding nor detracting from my argument. It’s colour so that you can judge if my opinion is worth taking seriously. But I can tell you, I’ve never shagged a woman I didn’t respect, and Isobel earned that respect over 6 months, dozens of dodgy situations, and once she opened up down to the cheek bone one of General Mladic’s bodyguards who shoved his pistol in my face (wrong body language all around, I guess), and she pistol-whipped him from nowhere. Not bad for a girl, as I will un-PC like say. The rest of us men were gawping. and at that moment, I knew that she knew her stuff, not merely in terms of physical protection, but also in judging that the junior bodyguard of Mladic was OK to make a point, but the senior bodyguard would have been too difficult and dangerous to humiliate.

December 5, 2013 12:30 am
December 5, 2013 6:14 am

Physiologically wise, I’ve nothing against women in combat, but as x pointed out, it does open up a lot of other problems, and RT, yes that includes shagging :). After tour and once she’s out of your direct unit, no problem, as you did but how often are people going to be able to hold on to that principle, especially in combat stress where sometimes “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” can sometimes become a stress relieving default norm? We do not need a version of the US “Love Boat” incident in the army.

The problems of facilities in the field can be worked around, most of the toilets, showers and quarters are in base camps who’ll probably have the resources to duplicate such facilities for males and females, so I don’t see it as a big problem.

Now comes by biggest objection. Effects in the field. In patriarchal countries, it can cause great stress in inter-force relations if they had to be ordered about by a female. Unless you can stipulate that either you will never intervene in any Muslim country (and world peace will break out soon) or ensure that no women will be deployed there, tearing apart unit coherency, it’s an added complication. This is also going to cause more problems in terms of war crimes when you lose. You can’t always assume you’ll win a battle, and rapes during war will increase with the number of women on the front lines. Admittedly, men can also be raped, but it’s a much less frequent occurrence. Unless you want future relations with the aggressor to be forever marred by war crimes claims, it may be best to just avoid the problem entirely. Look at Japan and Korea going on and on about the comfort women question, though that is a civilian problem, it can easily carry over into a suit by military women, especially after they leave the service and social rights groups get their hands on them.

RT, you could say that tactically you are right, good women can stand up to men. My worries are more on the strategic side and the wider implications rather than the individual unit worries.

dave haine
December 5, 2013 7:27 am

@ RT

TBH I was trying to goad phil into a tirade, as he has a real anti about replacing 5.56. Oh well…

BTW you make the contracts sound like satchel charges….

John Hartley
December 5, 2013 9:29 am

I have nothing against women in the Forces, as my late mother was a WRAC officer during WW2. However the nearest to combat she got, was seeing the civilian casualties of V2 strikes on London. She was in the pay corps. I still have doubts about putting women in front line combat though. I am fine with women having weapons for self defence & for being near the front. Just not on the cutting edge.
Mind you, if you had a grade 1, Amazon warrior, I would not stop her, but this would be a rarity not the norm.
If you take this, politically correct equality nonsense too far then you should not be age-ist either. That means an old wreck like me could join up. Might apply to the RAF regiment just to annoy RT.

December 5, 2013 10:48 am

@John Hartley: I think the issue with women is partly principle and partly political reality. The principle is that in a mixed unit, relationships *will* form on an ad hoc basis, and this will cause immense problems. Imagine the hoary old chestnut of “locating the enemy”: when it comes to ordering a pair to run forward to draw fire, who will you send if a relationship exists between you and a subordinate? You will either stress yourself or potentially destroy the trust between you and your command. There’s a reason that brothers are split up :-(

The political reality is that the numbers of women who both want and can cope with a combat job are very limited. But that’s not good enough for the “equality industry”, who will promptly demand that the standards are “gender normed”.

It’s interesting you mention the RAF Regiment in the context of older troops. Gary Thompson immediately sprang to mind. The man had serious balls, and it’s a terrible loss :-(


December 5, 2013 12:42 pm

Not sure the point aboout preventing relationships forming stands up any more.

Same sex relationships can still form in an all male platoon don’t-you-know…

December 5, 2013 12:44 pm

@ RT

I know you were adding a bit of “colour” talking about shagging. :) My point was imagine if you are young private’s or trooper’s wife, all the worry of their being deployed, and then consider how it would be if a third of a platoon or troop was female. Look at some of the the goings on since women have gone to sea. Servicemen have always shagged servicewomen, colleagues shag colleagues, no news. But there is a difference between at the rear (? :) ) and these relationships being carried forward into harms way isn’t good.

As I said being a bodyguard isn’t combat is it? This is a female bodyguard “protecting” HRH Duchess of Cambridge…….


I bet she is uber competent and probably could kick my backside. But it isn’t,


is it? Now there may be a female medic at that scene, but it is specialist role.

Think of it this way…………

This is excellent for driving along range tracks and firebreaks etc.

It is a piece of military equipment, but would you want to go to war in it? No? What about this……

Frontline units need supporting by structures that are as disciplined as they are which means though support structures being military too. Women are vital to UK armed forces and do exceptional work. But I do question where is the balance point between service (to society) and duty and rights.

December 5, 2013 1:14 pm

@Peter Elliot: same sex relationships are an issue too. But an issue an order of magnitude smaller, since both males and females are 2-3% gay and 97-98% hetero

December 5, 2013 1:32 pm

Actually its a spectrum not a split, and the historical figure of 2-3% is likely to substantially underestimate the level of people with some same-sex inclinations.

As society continues to become more accepting the numbers feeling comfortable to act on their inclinations are only going to to increase. Its also a generational thing and young soldiers’ attitudes will be changing faster than either the MoD brass or the august greybeards of the blogosphere realise.

And with combat arms still numbered in the thousands it would be wrong to imagine that this issue isn’t going to arise.

So overall maybe we need more work on refining the policy of where and when any intimate relationships are appropriate and how to deal with them when (not if) they happen, rather than focusing on what gender can serve in which unit.

John Hartley
December 5, 2013 2:01 pm

Was there not a rumour that the RN lost a Battleship/Cruiser during WW2, because the Captain had a secret affair with a young seaplane pilot? The seaplane went missing. The Captain turned the ship around to search for it & the ship got torpedoed.
As to how many gays, depends on your definitions. Tight definition is 2% to 3%. People who only ever do one gay thing in their life & think of themselves as straight, brings it up to 25% to 30%. There used to be a one in ten belief thanks to Kinsey, but now people think around 7% are primarily gay, even if not doing all the bells & whistles.

December 5, 2013 2:18 pm

@Peter Elliot: I’m afraid the only correct answer is liable to be no relationships within the same company for example. That really isn’t practical, is it? Better to avoid the issue to begin with.

December 5, 2013 2:27 pm

@wf – You miss my point.

As our society is today you can’t avoid it. Staistcally it is going to happen.

So rules and procedues to deal with it will be needed anyway.

We will have more discplined and effective forces if we recognise and deal with it than if we don’t.

December 5, 2013 2:38 pm

@Peter Elliot: not entirely. We have such rules now, continue to apply them :-)

December 5, 2013 2:46 pm

One thing i have always noticed in these debates is the desire to have ones cake and eat it.
Soliders are always a band of brothers untill someone mentions putting women in the front line. Then its all oh no how will you react if the women gets shot, how willl you order her into danger, will you risk the mission trying to protect her? The assumption here being that if the frontline is made up of just men soilders will casually let eachover die and send their mates towards machine gun nests. What a load of bollocks. You cant on the one hand talk about the unbreakable bonds formed in combat, harp on about how a soldier fights for his mates not his country and the regiment is his family, and then say women cant serve because soilders will get to close.
And on the flip side, arguing for equality then lowing the number of pushups nad so fourth required for women. How is a women supposed to be respected if her fellow troops can see she had to pass a lower threshold. having said this pushups in particluer are much harder for women. Is the armys requirement for a certain number of pushups a desire for a actual level of strength or just a test of general fittness and motivation?

December 5, 2013 3:10 pm

@ TD

Probably not the best post from the owner of the site called Think Defence.

December 5, 2013 3:34 pm

Angola wants to buy Principe de Asturias (R11).

It’s been suggested (at Information Dissemination) that they might be thinking of the AFSB concept or similar, using her as a base for helicopters and small craft to look after their huge offshore oil industry. Can’t help but think a few PSV-derived/SIMSS ships would be better and more practical, especially as she doesn’t have a dock or AFAIK much amphibious capability.

December 5, 2013 3:38 pm

@TD: well, if it’s all purely a matter of individual ability and nothing else is relevant, please explain why siblings are split up within units?

With regard to “same job, same standards” and the issue of “gender norming”, lets consider combat medic jobs, a gender neutral role. @Phil, did female medics carry the same loads as the men?

December 5, 2013 4:38 pm

@TD: if you are talking about brothers, not necessarily. 2 Para had 16 pairs at Goose Green, and I’m sure other geographical ones could well have the same. It is an existing procedure…care to comment on how we shuffle our posts when Pte’s A and B decide it’s time to move in together? Or when they start throwing things at each other when Pte C shags Pte A when B is away on exercise and we need to re-post again?

Red Trousers
December 5, 2013 6:29 pm

@ JH, re “…Might apply to the RAF regiment just to annoy RT.

No skin off my nose at all JH, in fact I’m sure that whatever your age you’ll raise the corporate standards of their fitness, efficiency, utility and intelligence.

But I’m still disbanding the lot when I become Sec State for Defence. Either that or posting all of the Squadrons permanently to Mount Pleasant, on the grounds that it is an airfield and it needs guarding, and that is their sole function. They can have one Squadron on guarding operations for a six month tour, and the rest on a non-deployed cycle in their barracks, still at Mount Pleasant. It will be cheaper, and a seaside posting for them.

@ All, re the percentage of homosexuals. There was something in one of the papers very recently that followed the article about the latest National Survey of Sexual Attitudes or whatever it was called. It seems that society is changing, but only a bit and slowly. I put that down to less “shame” about admitting to same sex relationships or experiences, but that is only my guess. I also did the Kinsey test which was linked to the article and was interesting, and scored a Kinsey Zero.

John Hartley
December 5, 2013 7:00 pm

TD Re the Cessna Scorpion. As it is a straight wing subsonic jet, could it do STOBAR off the Elephants? It is unlikely we will get enough mega buck F-35B to fill the QE class, so maybe fill up with some cheapies?
RT Dread to think what would happen if I took the Kinsey test. Probably get the answer “Are you sure you are not dead”. If you get to be SecDef, I want a Captain Mainwaring job in the RAF Reg, posted to Gibraltar, to keep these old bones warm.

Red Trousers
December 5, 2013 7:21 pm


for you, an exception. Your choice of Gib or Akrotiri. Having been to both, I was struck by how many UK civil service types there were there (I wonder why? ;) ), so that’s another option. Sunshine posting while building up the pension pot.

Re the Home Guard. Were they paid for their time? I really don’t know, but I’ve a suspicion that probably not. ARP were not paid, I read once.

Gloomy Northern Boy
December 5, 2013 7:41 pm

On a different and rather more serious subject, I wondered what the reaction was to the public identification of Marine A? Seems to me to put his family at grave risk, and my reaction is that even if (some) of the public are interested, there is no particular Public Interest served…any thoughts out there?


December 5, 2013 8:16 pm

@GNB: he deserves to be punished. His family does not. So anonymity is the way to go

December 5, 2013 8:20 pm

And how many other convicted criminals get that luxury of protecting there family for crimes they committed?

Red Trousers
December 5, 2013 8:36 pm

I’m with Mark on this. He’s done incalculable damage to the British Armed Forces and our international reputation. then there’s legal principles of all being equal in front of the law, etc.

I DO accept there’ll be some powerful statements of mitigation (I heard on R4 that 6 of his muckers had been killed on the tour, including some whose corpses were desecrated by the Taliban. I’d personally hope those statements of mitigation succeed).

But, it’s a murder, and it must be punished, and murderers do not get anonymity.

Linked, but I’m no lawyer so no expert judgement, and so only an instinct.

What the hell is going on with the trial of the two Africans charged with the murder of Lee Rigby? From the court reporting, it appears that there is no contention at all from the Defence that they did not kill him, there seems to be complete acceptance that they did. Presumably, the defence will therefore rely upon establishing an argument that while they killed him, it was not murder as our law defines it, but some battlefield act. IXION will have a view, as he is legal. But it seems bonkers to me. They are not even pleading guilty to manslaughter or causing death by something else that is not murder.

Gloomy Northern Boy
December 5, 2013 8:42 pm

@Mark – How many other innocent families can be so readily found and identified? How many others were connected to a crime attracting such a high level of press attention? How many others are likely to attract the attention of a world-wide terrorist franchise with local enthusiasts like the ones currently on trial in London?

Apples and oranges…


December 5, 2013 8:52 pm

Oh come on gnb there is plenty of high profile cases in the uk. Child killers, rapists, multiple murders, child molestors ect there innocent family’s don’t get protection. Not to mention environment terriorsts, right to life groups ect. Should we not name any member of the armed forces in public because they could be targeted?

Many people in Northern Ireland during the troubles never got protection for being named all over the press for various things and that threat was far higher.

Gloomy Northern Boy
December 5, 2013 9:29 pm

@Mark – Most murders are committed within families so those families are as much victims as targets…a much smaller number are committed by young men against one another, and rarely become headline news for more than a day or two even locally…only a vanishingly small number are in the category that attract opprobrium, and in those cases the aggrieved party are not a terrorist operation…they are normally the injured family whose reaction is likely to be monitored so that trouble can be headed off at the pass. (Family Liaison Officers and all that)

Having given away the guys name and unit, thereby narrowing the search area, are we now going to leave his wholly innocent family to it until some random Islamist Crackpot tracks them down? They have done nothing wrong and deserve our protection…much easier and cheaper to provide if they are unknown…or are they to be punished along with the culprit?


Red Trousers
December 5, 2013 9:47 pm

GNB, a couple of thoughts:

in Northern Ireland, despite the extremely sectarian communities in some cities and towns, the local people from both sides knew “of” each other extremely well, and so when someone was murdered by a suspected or even later convicted terrorist / murderer, it was not so difficult for the family of the murderer to be tracked down by the other side. If they chose to. I can think of some cases in which they were, and other cases in which they were not. I’ve no idea at all on figures or percentages either way, but there will be data somewhere.

I spent a hugely informative day at a place called Corrymeela on the Antrim coast, an inter-faith foundation set up specifically to bring together in reconciliation the wives (or more normally widows) of terrorists, and took part in some group workshops where these girls sat and discussed with each other their feelings. Quite powerful stuff. (I was only there as I was escorting the Regimental Padre who had an interest in that sort of thing, so there I was with a Browning shoved down my jeans – seemed a bit out of place, but they made me welcome and asked me my opinion, and at one point, the widows of an IRA man, a UVF man, myself and the Padre joined hands and said a prayer for reconciliation. Then the Padre and I drove off in a most conspicuous Q car which if the IRA had bothered, could have been ambushed at almost any point on the journey back to Belfast).

Secondly, I think, and this will be difficult to say on a Defence blog like TD, and I’d hope you’d know of my support for our servicemen. I think we nationally are dangerously close to fetishing the bravery and heroism of the Services, particularly in the last 3 years. Really a very difficult area, and hugely prone to misinterpretation. I think the solemn reading of names in Parliament is a step too far, as an example. Let’s not forget that 400 soldiers in a single year died in Northern Ireland in the early 70s. OK, different times, different circumstances.

But taken to I hope fair conclusion, I don’t think we should be putting in special measures into our legal system to somehow give a convicted murderer different measures, anonymity, etc, simply because he was a serviceman. Measures already exist, for example pleas of mitigation, for specific circumstances to be taken into account.

December 5, 2013 9:57 pm


But all are named Ian Huntley, even James bulgers killers regardless of the effect on family members. This is no different he’s been tried and convicted in a court of law his right to anonymity ends there. If he was worried about his family he shouldn’t pulled the trigger.

Peoples lives can be ruined by naming them prior to prosecution so they have benefited from that. And those aquitted should stay anonymous.

Following soldiers round afghan with cameras and following there families back home doesn’t seem to draw the same concerns for there safety so it’s a bit rich to play that card now. And in case you think that doesn’t matter In the recent high profile enquire into the killing of two senior ruc officers it was reported one was targeted because he was the officer seen on TV carrying the rifles of the Ira terriorsts killed at lough gall.

paul g
December 5, 2013 10:49 pm

@RT, I made the very same points about two weeks ago when someone I knew was pontificating about wearing a poppy, casually mentioned to him that when I did my tours of NI (85-87, 97-99) I didn’t see him wearing a poppy then. apparently that was “different” I won’t bore you with the details suffice to say the discussion was finished by me using the immortal phrase “wind your tits in fucktard”

@TD with ref to the scorpion it uses worldwide available Cessna parts and they reckon it will cost $3000 (approx. £1500) an hour to fly. That’s got to appeal to someone especially when you factor in they’ve footed the bill for the R&D.

Red Trousers
December 6, 2013 12:20 am

Paul G, Ack. Seems we have similar thoughts.

I have an older second cousin who fought in Vietnam in 1972/3, at the height of the anti-war movements. He was one of those spat at and reviled in the American culture of the time when he completed his tour of duty, and he largely forgot his time of military service, or – I suspect in reality – did not so much forget as not advertise, and he made his post-draft career in academia. His stepson (no relation of mine) was killed in Iraq in 2005, and the people of his small town in Vermont turned out in their hundreds for the funeral cortege. Neither he, nor I see much difference in the individual men involved.

Red Trousers
December 6, 2013 1:38 am


For some reason I that’s not revealing itself to me now, I thought back to the Passing Out Parade of my “O” Type Engagement in Catterick. “O” Type was a bit of a suck it and see exercise on behalf of both potential officers and the Army. Basically you did the soldiers Phase One training alongside them before attending the Regular Commissions Board (RCB) for the Army. I don’t know if the Andrew or the Kevins had similar schemes.

I was always fairly certain, but still did the “O” Type 17 weeks. Did me a power of good. I was just 18.

Anyway, we had a Scotsman (in the Queen’s Own Hussars, a Yorkshire regiment) as our Troop Staff Sergeant. Quite a character, but oh my goodness he loved drilling. And then we did the Passing Out Parade, along with several standard Recruit Troops, and he sent us on our way with some words, totally matched to the rhythm of the band that was playing. It brings a smile to my face even now to think of those words he muttered, that we could all hear but the spectators not:

Right then Laddies, wait for it…wait for it….

(Bom!.., Bom!.., Bom!.., Bom!.. from the bass drum)

Heel an’ toe, an’ awa’ we go!

Steady, steady, get wi’ the rhythm!

Ye think you’re ready, ye think ye’re a King,

But your balls are swinging with a Cavalry ring…

Dof, Di’, Dof, Di’, Dof, Di’, Dof, Di’….

He was right. You do actually march more attractively if you try to let your balls swing a bit, and show some confidence.

dave haine
December 6, 2013 3:45 am

@ RT

‘Bags of Swank’ as my drill instructor would say….

“Lean back from the waist, let ’em sway…”

December 6, 2013 9:56 am

New super secret stealthy UAS from the USA: http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_12_06_2013_p0-643783.xml

Its revelation certainly seems to explain the schizophrenic USAF attitude towards UAS systems of the last few years (particularly with regards to the Global Hawk).

December 6, 2013 6:54 pm
December 7, 2013 12:17 am

Woo, another month or two, and guess what, the Frogs and their balanced force need to be bailed out by the Brits again…


December 7, 2013 12:51 pm

A RAF transport aircraft has left the UK on a mission to support the French military quell fighting in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The C17 Globemaster took off from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, to collect military equipment from a French base before flying them to Bangui, the capital of the troubled country. It is the first of three planned RAF airlifts by 99 Squadron to help French armed forces as they support African Union troops in their bid to stabilise the country.


I guess this is another one of those operations not near the sea……

December 7, 2013 1:08 pm

I guess this is another one of those operations not near the sea……

Steady now, you’ll wake them…

December 7, 2013 1:11 pm

The death of GOCO moves closer. Allegedly.

December 7, 2013 1:19 pm
December 7, 2013 1:36 pm

@ Mark & Phil

I saw the story when it broke last night. Just want you to know I have posted airmail a cream cracker to the UN to cure world hunger. As the cracker is being delivered by sainted air I am hoping for a similar miracle to that which occurred at Bethsaida.

@ Jules

They can’t privatise what they can’t define. :)

December 7, 2013 1:51 pm

The whole GOCO stuff was likely to fail: they wanted a single massive contract. Better to do things in slices

@x: how right you are. But I think the idea was that the private firm was going to define the functions, and then ruthlessly fire the unneeded. Not likely to provide something the MOD would like in the end. Bringing in an external firm to help define this stuff makes good sense, although Phil the spreadsheet master would then have to man up and fire 75% of the 21000.

December 7, 2013 1:59 pm

Wow, the RAF is undercutting Russian contractors.

December 7, 2013 2:16 pm

@ Wiseape

By removing the requirement for 5* hotels, you’ll now find our prices are quite competitive ;)

Ace Rimmer
December 7, 2013 3:31 pm

TD, ‘scuse my late arrival to the Scorpion debate, looks like a great aircraft, and if Cessna built it, then its probably put together pretty well. One thing that springs to mind, if Cessna built it and it uses loads from their spare parts bin (cheers, Paul G) then why didn’t they just put the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly back into production?

Give it a good make over, glass cockpit, new comms etc…

Accepted, its a bit old in the tooth, but it would’ve been cheaper from designing a completely new aircraft, and there’s still quite a few still in service, especially in South America.


dave haine
December 7, 2013 4:37 pm

@ Ace Rimmer

I agree with you. There’s usually a good reason why aeroplanes stay running for a lot longer than intended…and it’s because nothing else is quite as good, or can fit the bill quite as well… The DC-3 is a classic example, The Hawk another.
The tweet has stayed exactly because it’s a simple, robust ‘plane that’s good at what it does.

December 7, 2013 5:57 pm

This is interesting, but I would hope the buoy sinks shortly after launching the UAS:


December 7, 2013 8:46 pm
Gloomy Northern Boy
December 7, 2013 11:07 pm

@Ant – one for the Christmas list…

A positively cheerful Gloomy.

December 8, 2013 10:19 am

Yes well, you see, alot of them are landlocked. Over to you army/airforce. I’d start easy – Vatican City. Still using pikes! And lots of nearby airfields.

Ooops I’ve just remembered whose Pope. Better beef up the navy for the inevitable response.

December 8, 2013 10:26 am

In what Conservatives fear could be an irreversible step, the Prime Minister is preparing to commit Britain to deeper military cooperation across the EU at a summit in Brussels later this month.
The deal would pave the way for developing a new fleet of unmanned drones, promoting the deployment of EU rapid response “battlegroups”, and drawing up new cyber warfare and maritime security strategies next year.
Under the plans, the RAF’s new Voyager refuelling aircraft is among the assets being earmarked for use by other EU countries under moves towards creating a European Air Force.


You never know the rumoured European martime patrol aircraft may happen yet!

December 8, 2013 10:35 am

An interesting article from Mallinson in today’s Telegraph:


I’d be interested in the views of some recent or currently serving types on what he has to say, not about the specific case of Marine A but more widely about standards of discipline and training in today’s army.

December 8, 2013 10:39 am

@Mark – That’s just bollocks.

What, you want me to elaborate? Well, it involves more typing, so briefly: EU decides to launch strikes against a country; UK Parliament says no; where does EU get it’s tankers from? Or, EU decides to blockade a country – UK and France say no; where does EU get it’s ships from?

You can’t have “deeper military” co-operation while each nation retains the right to say no. And let’s face it, if the US says no, then it really doesn’t matter what the EU says, does it.

December 8, 2013 10:40 am

Interesting piece on road building in Afghanistan and the relationship betweeen security, prosperity, and civil and military engineering.


December 8, 2013 10:48 am


They still haven’t addressed the fundamental point about these joint nation forces – what happens when the country you are depending upon for a critical component says, “No, I think we will sit this one out”?

Good luck to a Prime Minister who sends off troops to fight and be killed on the basis of qualified majority vote in Brussels when his/her people are not in favour. Good luck too to the countries who have committed to action but find they can’t because the PM whose country should be providing the air to air refuelling, the ASW escort or whatever says, “Not in our name”.

The whole thing is a political exercise, possibly a power grab by Brussels, and if pushed through will have the reverse effect of the stated purpose.

(Edit: Sorry Mr Ape has made same point but more wisely that me whilst I was typing)

December 8, 2013 10:58 am


Well it is and it isn’t in my view. We’ve heard it repeated constantly on the US pacific pivot and Europe taking responsibility for its own security. Now that doesn’t mean the uk taking responsibility for Europe’s security and building a mini us fleet, it means Europe taking responsibility not just with capability but also with european developed equipment. Hopefully it will mean harmonisation of requirements and specs a sort of military equivalent to EASA to allow all manufacturers to design to common requirements. The European air transport command will probably be a trail blazer in this especially with a400m and a330mrtt coming into service in greater numbers with European nations. Continued improving integration with the 5 European typhoon operators would probably be a gd area as well as isr.


The uk has built alliances to fight wars for hundreds of years we’ve gotten in more trouble these last few years by not doing that you retain national,capability to fight independently at a certain level and scale and come to getter with other country’s to do more don’t know why that’s hard to understand

December 8, 2013 11:12 am


As the slogan says free trade stops wars!

December 8, 2013 11:41 am


Of course we have built alliances to fight for hundreds of years. I am not sure which war (not colonial action) apart from FI we have fought on our own since at least the 17th century) the but I think you are missing the point about these latest proposals.

If different nations are to provide different capabilities to produce the coherent EU whole, then each nation will concentrate on providing its bit and relying on the others to provide theirs. So, for example the UK provides air to air refuelling and the Belgians provide the fighters; or the UK provides the carriers and the French the ASW escorts. Then, come the day, one party says, no we are not going to join in on this one as we perceive its against our national interest. Then what happens?

As Mr. Ape said, “You can’t have “deeper military” co-operation while each nation retains the right to say no”

Not the same issue as fighting as part of an alliance, you see?

December 8, 2013 12:25 pm

All for one and one for all unless we don’t fancy it in which case you’re on your own. Imagine trying to use Gibraltar as a staging post for an EU op.

Tch, forgot why I came back here:


December 8, 2013 12:41 pm

In my simplistic mind I see this as exactly the same question of sovereignty as with currency, fiscal self-determination, immigration policy etc. Either the nation state has its own currency/treasury/border control/defence force and is a sovereign independent state, or it passes control of these to a ‘higher authority’ and becomes a subordinate region of a larger nation. Its part of the rules – to remain a sovereign state the nation needs to be able to control its own finances, its own borders and its own defence.

Let’s take No. 1 Barking Mad Idea – Shared Defence to its ultimate limit – let’s postulate that individual state veto is given up by treaty. Let’s also assume FI are threatened again. UK Gov’t goes cap in hand to Brussels to ask if we can send a task force; Spain argues against the expense; a bit of horse trading and a security council vote later we are told the islands aren’t worth the expense of defending. Spain laughs like a drain.

You don’t think a politician would give up such a valuable thing as a veto? Of course they would if they thought their personal situation would be advanced by such a sacrifice. If you are of a non-nervous disposition you should read what politicians gave away in Maastricht and Rome treaties.

A further example – over the cornflakes yesterday I watched a documentary on the lead up to WW2. Its subject matter was the level of anti-Hitler feeling in the less idealogical parts of the army that built into a very real possibility of a coup; all the conspirators requested was a firm declaration from France & Britain that they would fight Nazi Germany if it made any move against neighbour states – once such a decision was declared they intended to depose Hitler and head off war. Chamberlain apparently though such a statement was too war-like and would raise the probability of Britain joining another war against Germany so he refused. This took the wind out of the sails of the conspirators. Chamberlain’s opinion of his own importance, his own negotiating skill, and his personal authority far exceeded reality – he flew to Germany to control Hitler by fine arguments and letters of agreement. More than this, it is strongly suspected Chamberlain told Hitler of the coup being planned within the German army to make himself look more important and to gain personal trust from the dictator. This without approval from UK services let alone the German Army officers now at risk of execution. All of Chamberlain’s arrogant self-determined diplomacy was counter-productive – the coup evaporated and Hitler did his worst. Had Chamberlain had the gumption to support the conspirators by presenting a firm non-conciliatory united front to the Nazi leaders, there is a significant possibility Hitler would have been replaced by someone who wasn’t a war-hungry madman, and the war may never have happened. Such is the arrogance of power.

So. Worth being nervous when politicians take it upon themselves to play fast & loose with national powers.

December 8, 2013 12:44 pm


And where’s it been stated that Belgium provide fighters and we provide tankers or the like? Think people are reading that into it when it’s not specifically there. The uk doesn’t have the ability to go to war on its own today at significant scale so essentially were already already at the with the right to say no.

We have the NATO awac force we had the tri national tornado training unit. We have coming the US based f35 training ect so what’s wrong with integrating aar and tanker logistics and training with European national all operating the same type of aircraft, or doing exactly what we’ve done with the French in Mali and now CAR. What wrong with doing it with things like future istar aircraft or tanks or even vehicles or ships. At my count 7 european nations have fielded aaw warships to 5 different designs is that sensible or how many wheeled apcs or tanks have Europe designed? Its in the development, training and thru life cost of equipment and people were the real cost of armed forces are not the unit price of ship aircraft or tank. If we continue to insist on integration on these future capability cuts are coming and coming fast.

December 8, 2013 1:10 pm

@ HL

I read the article you posted up. I thought it was fairly weak tbh. Lots of hints and huffing and puffing about one thing or another, but nothing really specific. I think perhaps too much is likely read into the ‘mate’ comment. I can’t comment too much on ‘teeth arms’ however the lack of rank isn’t the start of some slippery slope to oblivion.

The NEM stuff is a bit odd, as well as the bit about the weekly commute, especially as the NEM is still being worked. Lots of it is still to be released, weekly commuting is nothing new. My guess it’s someone with an agenda behind the scenes in relation to that part of the article.

dave haine
December 8, 2013 1:45 pm


I think the issue is more the cultural differences. The UK has, by and large, been more interventionist in it’s outlook than most european nations…and with the demise of any immediate threat to cozy, little Europe, that difference is only going to be more marked. France, as always, being the exception.

The resource pooling, load-sharing and shared vision are just another way of European nations saving money and relying on someone else to defend them.

December 8, 2013 1:51 pm


All the stuff you have listed is peacetime training and peacetime deployment. That is non-contentious and in the great scheme of things non-trivial but marginal. What happens after EU battlegroups have been introduced (be they land sea or air) when a conflict breaks out and one nation, whose contribution is vital, says no we are not playing?

Putting together an alliance for a specific conflict (something the Brits, as you point out have done for centuries) or belonging to an alliance set up to counter a specific threat (i.e. NATO) is very different from the EU battlegroup idea where each party commits to bring a specific commitment to the table when required.

Again Mr. Ape and, more recently, Mr. TD make the points that national sovereignty must triumph and that pooling ideals don’t stand up so well when the shit is hitting the fan and people are going to kill and be killed.

December 8, 2013 1:53 pm

Quite right Mr Haine.

And when even the ‘fighty’ members of the EU, UK and France, can’t agree on a simple bilateral programme for a sea skua replacement it makes me distinctly queasy about an EU wide defence project.

December 8, 2013 2:00 pm


Thanks for your view. I am genuinely interested in what is going on not least because from outside the army seems to be better than ever in terms of fitness, kit and training but at the same time becoming more “civilianised” and I am not sure that the latter is a good thing.

December 8, 2013 2:26 pm

If we go from one extreme to other would it be acceptable for French ssbn to provide a nuclear deterrent for the uk no, would it be acceptable for the Italians to trail 4 raf typhoons to deployment in the Far East prob yes.

Development of kit is another one uk, France and Italy all deployed storm shadow in Libya does that show european collaboration on strike weapons are possible arguably yes. Did Europe design build and field a highly capable combat jet in typhoon yes it did, in that same program did the lack of political and industrial co operation mean the uk couldn’t develop the capabilities it wanted on the jet because the rest of the partners weren’t interested yes. Would it have been a much improved process had there not been a need to get all countries to politically sign up to access all the bits of the jet that integrating this stuff requires yes. These things will only improve if political and industrial areas agree change it is after all how airbus became the powerhouse it is today. This all requires closer co-operation to work.

Would we have been better off if we bought leopard tanks as opposed to develop challenger 2, or a De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate as opposed to type 45 I don’t know the answers to that but these thing are becoming more expensive and were getting less and less of them so something fundamental needs to change.

Operation Atalanta is that not a eu battle group, operations in Libya and afghan or to a lesser extent Mali shows European nations can indeed come together to conduct operations. The UK Dutch marine force would be another gd example of a European battle group.

But we will only get specialist high cost capabilities needed to conduct these operations be agreeing common design and development with other European states especially if it means they are ITAR free.

Gloomy Northern Boy
December 8, 2013 2:36 pm


> Many European Nations would be happy for us to share the burden of their defence.

> The Germans would be happy to provide all the kit.

> The French would be happy to take all the decisions about what we ought to do.

> We would get the opportunity to do all the fighting….

Why am I so sure? Because If there was a real “European Dimension” to this, then most of them would cheerfully recognise that the real defence players in the EU for out of area activities are the UK (and France?)…and therefore it is in everybody’s interest to accept our leadership and buy our long-reach kit (Warships) to help keep us in business.

I haven’t noticed much evidence of either, and don’t expect to any time soon…

What exactly do we get out of this except the opportunity to do our European “Friends” a big favour, in the certain knowledge that they would not lift a finger to help us meet any of our legitimate out of area needs?

(@Chris “Number 1 Barking Mad Idea” applies)


Gloomy Northern Boy
December 8, 2013 2:53 pm

Too late to add:

“The Europeans are not our friends – they have never been our friends – they will never be our friends – they mostly hold us in strong dislike, occasionally mingled with a little grudging respect…although that is better than the rest of the world who mostly actively hate us, although not as much as they hate the Cousins…”

Sad but true


December 8, 2013 2:58 pm

The obvious thing for the EU to do is for them to pay us all their defence budgets as insurance……….. :)

I believe strong fences make good neighbours, and a state’s defence capability is it’s fence.

December 8, 2013 3:05 pm

“The Europeans are not our friends – they have never been our friends – they will never be our friends – they mostly hold us in strong dislike, …”

The Great Duke once put it,

“We always have been, we are, and I hope that we always shall be, detested in France.”

True then and as true now.

December 8, 2013 3:11 pm


Bit strong that. I wouldn’t say that reflected relations within Europe at all, we aren’t are at hostile relations with them.

Gloomy Northern Boy
December 8, 2013 3:21 pm

@Topman – Most European states are grown-ups well able to work with their neighbours within a structured environment to achieve mutually agreed objectives…so we do…but that is the limit of it…why do you imagine we were bugging Merkel’s phone?


December 8, 2013 3:38 pm

To get any information from it we might deem useful. Although I thought it was the US?

I’m sure we do and that’s true, however it doesn’t mean we are hostile to each other. As in ‘they have never been our friends – they will never be our friends – they mostly hold us in strong dislike,’ You think it is a fair reflection of our relations with Europe?

December 8, 2013 3:42 pm

@ Topman

If you think the French or Germans would put short term gain for their states now ahead of long term gain for the whole of Europe you are too nice a chap.

Since WW2 with one exception our leadership in the UK has lacked confidence. Take Gibraltar. If we were France you can bet that by now a Spanish diplomat or three would have been sent home, the finance regulators would be poking around Santander, and there would be brash moves to halt the importation and sale of SEAT cars. And if the EU protested there would be a wall of words and diversionary hoopla to head off their sanctions. The international system is made up of states that are nominally equal. It is an anarchic system. There is no overarching authority that can ultimately sanction states. International law only exists if those who sign up to it act upon it. History is littered with broken treaties and conventions. Though reputation is important to a country, that has to be tempered with realism.

December 8, 2013 3:55 pm

Yet on average 12 million uk nationals will visit Spain mainly on holiday every year and that number was up a few percent this year so what that tell you?

Having worked with company’s from all across Europe over the years I really don’t get the attitude you suggest GNB.

December 8, 2013 4:01 pm

@ x

My point was about our relations with Europe in general. I don’t think it’s as bad as has been made out earlier up thread. Our relations aren’t hostile with them.

December 8, 2013 4:05 pm

12 million uk nations visit Spain every year on average and that number was up slightly this year so what’s that tell you!

December 8, 2013 4:27 pm
December 8, 2013 4:35 pm

@mark: the small problem with the supposed advantages of Euro collaboration is that in practice, they don’t exist. The likes of Tornado, Eurofighter etc all ended up costing far more to develop than national projects, and are often horrendously late. This is not surprising since the majority of European countries don’t see such projects as generating capabilities but as industrial welfare and political cement: a bit like marrying off the uglier princesses to the less important princes.

ITAR is important, but greater advantages could be gained from operating in a more Swedish manner, where buying components off the shelf is treated in a matter of fact manner.

December 8, 2013 4:39 pm

@mark: UK nationals will visit anywhere it isn’t raining. I don’t think this demonstrates any particular liking for the Spanish, merely an appreciation of their “we’re desperate, we joined the euro” rates :-)

December 8, 2013 4:39 pm

Nice to see the hanger at saints is being used!

December 8, 2013 4:53 pm

wf well benefits do exist in practice in terms for numbers produced, logistics, training and interoperability. As I said politics can intervene but that’s were harmony need to be built Airbus and its success in civil airlines is an example of this there is no reason why military program cannot be run in the same way.

The point I was making about people visiting Spain was to x about his list of I suppose I’ll call it sanctions against Spain for its low level infractions over gib. If uk citizens were in anyway bothered by such things you would think they would perhaps choose a different warm and sunny climate to go on holiday to as opposed to financing the Spain economy

December 8, 2013 5:23 pm

@ Mark

Thank you for pointing out how many UK nationals visit Spain each year. If you go back to read what I said I wasn’t saying that is what a UK should or would do. I was using extreme examples to illustrate typical French behaviour. The French have embargoed goods from other states. They do send diplomates home. France puts France first.

Breaking publicly a Vienna Convention isn’t a low level infraction; the Vienna Conventions are what keep the diplomatic system working. I take it you would perfectly happy if after a CG vessels enters BGTW that a RN vessels did similar? After all it is only a level infraction. What if say an armed CG unit crosses the border pursuing a criminal? If we did similar would it still be low level in your book? Or would “we” consider such action an escalation or too serious, and something we wouldn’t do? That is the difference between us and them. If they do it over a border dispute what would they do over something more serious? Say fiddling the state’s accounts? Something the EU does. States lie to other states all the time. They lie over little things, they lie over big things.

If where they go on holiday was the measure of Britons’ support for the state then we would all be pro-EU and be using the Euro. Brits go to the Med because it is warm and cheap. If they could get to Florida or Australia just as quick and it be just as cheap then the majority would go there. At a fundamental level I would say Brits support the defence of Western civilisation, though that is a very broad church. But you mustn’t confuse that with that support for the EU. Some argue that the EU is actually detrimental to the West. The EU has done nothing for European security.

December 8, 2013 5:49 pm

‘If where they go on holiday was the measure of Britons’ support for the state ‘

I think you’re right, but it does suggest Spain’s action over Gib isn’t of great concern to many in the UK. If it were there are many other places to go (and if we include expats) and live.

December 8, 2013 5:51 pm

‘If where they go on holiday was the measure of Britons’ support for the state ‘

I think you’re right, but it does suggest Spain’s action over Gib isn’t of great concern to many in the UK. If it were there are many other places to go (and if we include expats) and live in the med.

December 8, 2013 6:01 pm

I thought the Royal Marines invaded a Spanish beach once or twice :)

indeed army patrols have on the odd occasion got lost and crossed the border from the north of Ireland to the south. I can’t help thinking of the book the Guns of August when Spain and gib are mentioned.

And how many years in a row has the nao refused to sign off MOD accounts?

The 285b of trade with the eu every year suggests were pretty well totally integrated with eu countries and many people rely on those links for jobs. Does that mean we all agree with eu regulation and laws or how there interpreted no or indeed fishing/agriculture rights. But then is that any different than what happens between the states that make up the uk. It is that trade interdependency helped along by the eu which has helped improve security I would say.